Short Story Sunday: Good Bones

The house had good bones. It would stand through a 8.0 magnitude earthquake if there were earthquakes where they stood. The first residents in 1906 had felt the San Francisco quake as well as the one in 1989 but there was never any damage. It was faint, like the ingrained presence of Vampires and Ghosts.

Austin Durant, History Professor, restorer of historic buildings, and Vampire Hunter, had been hired to restore the house, a once lavish structure filled with painted over wood work and seventy five years of unfortunate remodels. He’d brought along Kayden, a graduate student in history who’d been living with him due to the pandemic.

“If these walls could talk…” said Kayden looking around in what must have been at one time a grand salon.

“They can talk,” said Austin as he knocked quietly on the walls as he walked around the room.

“What are you looking for?” Kayden asked.

“Structural anomalies, possible pest damage, previous residents,” said Austin.

“Previous residents? Like bodies in the walls?”

“You never know.”

The two explored the house, Austin leading and answering Kayden’s questions. They’d traced the history of the house back to the original owners in 1889. The home was originally 2,000 square feet, but now it stood at 3,200 square feet with the additions of a large kitchen, sunroom and other undocumented additions.

Kayden opened an old beaten up oak wardrobe in one of the larger bedrooms. “So what if there had been a body in here. You know, like an old body from the 1920’s or something. What would you do?”

“I’d call the police and have them send someone out to take a look and remove it. Of course I’d try to figure out who it was and do some investigating of my own before anyone else looked at it.”

“Have you ever found a body?”

“A few times.”

“Wow, really?”

Austin was ready to tell one of his more interesting stories when he felt the hair on the back of his neck raise and felt a slight chill run through his body.  He turned around   to see the owner of the property standing in the doorway.

Even in the stifling heat, wearing shorts and a casual short sleeved shirt, Constantine Evans looked elegant and put together.

“If you’re looking for bodies or Ghosts there aren’t any in here,” said Constantine.

“Good to know,” said Austin. “Let me introduce you. Constantine, this is Kayden. Kayden, Constantine Jones, the owner of this house.”

“Hi. Great house. Should we have our masks on?” asked Kayden.

“No,” said Constantine. “You’re safe.”

Austin smiled slightly. “Constantine knew the original owners.”

“Wow they must have been really old,” said Kayden.

“Not really,” said Constantine. “The house was fabulous. He died in the war to end all wars, then she sold the place and moved to God knows where. They had such great parties. It was such a shame. The place was never the same after that.” He made a dramatic turn towards towards Kayden. “Now it will be magnificent again, thanks to Austin.”

Austin knew Kayden wanted to question Constantine about what he’d just said and was glad the young man had kept his thoughts on the subject to himself.

“I understand you’re getting a masters degree in History Kayden. We’ll have to talk more. I have so many stories about this house and the city we live in. So many stories,” Constantine said.

“Sounds like a plan. You and Kayden can talk later,” said Austin, “but we have to get going. I’ll go over the final blueprints with you tomorrow. How about I meet you here around ten tomorrow morning?”

“Sounds good to me,” said Constantine now smiling with amused eyes in that way that says I know what you’re thinking and I find it extremely funny.

As they drove back to Austin’s house Kayden talked on and on about how cool the house was. He also talked about how interesting the owner seemed and that he’d like to talk more with him.

Austin kept his thoughts to himself. How could he possibly explain to Kayden that one had to always proceed with caution, especially with a Vampire. How could he even explain to Kayden that there are Vampires.

On the other hand it was 2020. Vampires? No big deal, all things considering.

“Hey Kayden, when we get back to the house there are some things I need to tell you, and show you. You have to first promise me you’ll keep and open mind.”

“Sure. What about?”

“The owner of the house and a few other things. Just keep an open mind.”

“You know me. I’m pretty open.”

Austin just kept driving, and thinking about what kind of can of worms he was getting this kid into. On the other hand, like he’d thought before, it is 2020.

 

~ end

Tangled Tales

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: True Friends

True Friends

The scratching noise was driving him nuts.

“What do you plan on doing with them?” James leaned back in his chair and downed his wine.

“I’m not sure,” said Andrew. “I’ve never had an infestation this bad before.”

“You should just kill them. I’ll help you.”

“They’ve already ruined the rugs in the living room. Damn it James, you were with me when I purchased the Turkish Kilim. I’ve had it for eighty years. I loved that rug.”

“I know a guy who might be able to fix it. He can do wonders with blood stains.”

“It isn’t the stains. Look at the holes in it. Totally ruined.”

James stood up and walked around the rug. “I think we should kill them and dump their bodies in the bay. Or I know a guy who can do that for us.”

Andrew stood in front of the window looking out at rain coming down on his back garden. This was his home. It was his sanctuary. “I should have never opened the front door without looking first, but I thought it might be a neighbor or delivery.”

James came over and put his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Damn Vampire Hunters.”

Andrew signed and said. “James, why don’t you call your guys. All of your guys. I don’t want to deal with this.”

“Good idea. No need to have to change our clothes. By the way I love your sweater. Cashmere?”

“It is. Soft as my cat. Shawna gave it to me.”

“Good to see you’re finally dating someone with good taste.”

They both looked up. The scratching and muffled screams started again.

Andrew picked his keys up off of the table. “Lets go to breakfast. Solid food sounds good this morning.”

“I know what you mean. I over did it on the blood last night. Holy crap did I ever over do it. I could use some coffee. Bacon too. We have to have bacon.”

“Bacon is always good. Call your guys on the way there. I’ll leave the back door open.”

No need to explain anything else except that friends are always there for each other.  That is always a good thing. xoxoxo

 

~ end

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Just thinking about stuff, but not really, and a funny story about a Vampire Hunter.

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I was looking through my dusty archives to find something interesting to re-post, re-blog, re-purpose, or you know, not write today.

Given what is going on right now we should all have a lot more done than we have. Novels should be finished. Your entire yard should be re-landscaped. Dogs should be trained and dressed up like great works of arts. You should have painted at least three museum worthy masterpieces. To give him great amounts of credit my husband painted four rooms in our house including the kitchen.

Blogging about grown children is sort of like walking on a tight rope in the wind. That is all I’m going to say about that today.

I spoke to a friend today who sort of mentioned that one day just blends into the next and it is ok if nobody is getting anything done. It is ok. Additional stress is the last thing any of us need right now.

In the meantime I thought you’d like to read an amusing story that might make you smile.

 

Gerald Atkins, Vampire Hunter

“Now take that Gerald Atkins. He was the worst Vampire Hunter I’d ever seen. He could spot them but that was about it.”

“What was wrong with him?” Austin poured Grammy another cup of coffee.

“Oh he thought he was so suave showing up all dressed up like Sam Spade in his over coat and hat, smoking those smelly cigarettes of his.”

Grammy put some half and half in her coffee and continued. “Gerald would do stupid things like show up with holy water he’d gotten from a nun down at the Catholic church. I told him that he’d just as well throw Coca Cola at a Vampire for all the good it would do. I believe he was having sexual intercourse with that nun. Sister Ann was her name. I bet half the babies in that orphanage where hers.”

“They weren’t her children,” said Austin.

“You don’t know that Austin.”

“Oh Grammy.”

“Just let me finish my story. Gerald Atkins was an idiot. He showed up at a party with his detective get up, with his briefcase full of holy water, a cross, and some old spike he carved out of a 2×4 piece of lumber. Of course he had a knife too but I doubt if he ever sharpened it. The man was goddamn lazy if you ask me.

In a back room back away from all of the drug addicts doing their cocaine on the glass top tables Gerald Atkins finds a couple of Vampires hanging out. There’s a male and a female. Mr. Vampire looks like he belongs to one of those hair bands. It was the 80’s you know. Miss Vampire wore a royal blue silk dress with the back open almost down to her butt crack. So Gerald Atkins takes a look at then and throws his holy water at them. It splashes all over Miss Vampire’s expensive dress and does nothing but make a bunch of stains. The Vampires jump all over Gerald’s ass and suck enough blood out of him to almost kill him, but not quite. Then they dump him in a gutter.

He wakes up in the hospital blubbering on about Vampires. The doctors were convinced he had bats in his attic and was full goose bat shit loony, and locked him up in the mental ward for a few days.

Another time he decided he wanted to date a Vampire woman. Gerald Atkins was so stupid thinking he might get lucky before he killed her. He talked her up trying to tell her how beautiful she was in a cool sort of way. She listened to him and beat him to any game he might have been trying to play. He ends up telling her his life story and about all of his pathetic sorry romances except for his diddling Sister Ann. He never dared speak of Sister Ann but everybody knew about them. Everybody.

Then the fool thinks the Vampire woman is falling for him because she is smiling so sweetly and making her eyes go all twinkly and pretty the way Vampires do. That Vampire woman tied Gerald Atkins naked to a bed in a fancy hotel and left him with the bill. She never took a stitch of her clothing off. Just left him there naked as the day he was born with a couple of holes in his neck. Idiot.”

“Is he still hunting Vampires Grammy?”

“Gosh no. Those Vampires got tired of his shenanigans and cut his head off one night. They left him in the Old City Cemetery with his body laid out on a random grave and his head on top to the tombstone.”

“That’s awful,” said Austin.

Grammy shook her head. “Not really Austin. He wasn’t careful or smart like we are. He never did his research. He could tell if someone was a Vampire but he sure didn’t have any talent to hunt them down properly. He gave us all a bad name.”

Austin offered Grammy more coffee. She nodded yes.

“No thanks. I will have another one of those sugar cookies you made. I’ll take two.”

“Do you think you’ll ever hunt Vampire again?” Austin asked his Grammy half joking. Just half.

Grammy took a bite of cookie and thought a bit. Then she smiled at her grandson. “I don’t know. I can’t run like I used to but you never know. They wouldn’t expect an old lady like me now would they.”

Austin just smiled and took a cookie. No they wouldn’t expect anyone like his Grammy. Nobody ever expected Grammy.

~ end

 

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Have fun everyone. I have a new series starting up tomorrow so I’ll see you back here soon. Stay home. Social distance. Wash your hands. Be nice. Think good thoughts. Be creative.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Pandemic

Austin Durant, college professor, historic restoration specialist, and Vampire Hunter, was working on a time line for when the first Vampire Hunters made their appearance in California. Some said it was 1867 but he knew it was probably earlier. Any written records were difficult to find, and there were no public records.

He closed the blinds in his office. Damn it was hot for April. Like everyone else he was at home, doing Zoom conferencing, and wondering if he’d ever be able to do live classes again.

The phone vibrated on his desk. He was quick to catch it before it vibrated right off onto the floor.

He looked at the caller I.D. It was his fifteen year old nephew Caden.

“What’s up Caden?”

“Uncle Austin, I’m at the hospital. Mom broke her arm. The bone was sticking through.”

“What happened?”

“She was out in the yard and tripped. I drove her here but they wouldn’t let me come in with her. I’m waiting outside in the parking lot. They said they’d call me.”

“It could be hours. Is there any shade?”

“Yeah, I found shade. I don’t want to leave her. I just have my permit. I’m not supposed to drive alone.”

“Do you want me to come down and get you?”

“No. It’s ok.”

“Do you have a mask? Gloves?”

“A mask. No gloves. I’ve got a bottle of hand sanitizer in the car.”

“Do you need anything to eat. Drinks?”

“I went through the drive through. I drove without mom but I turn sixteen next week. I’m sharing some chicken nuggets and fries with Cookie. I got big drinks for both of us. Water for Cookie.”

“Why’d you bring Cookie?”

“I don’t know. Nobody would bother a kid with a hundred pound dog. I have a book too, and my phone.”

“Where’s your dad?”

“Home. Didn’t my mom tell you? He has it. I think he has Covid19. My dad has been in his office on the spare bed for the past week coughing. He could barely get up the stairs by himself. We bring him food and leave it at the door like room service.”

“Is he going to be ok?”

“I don’t know. I think so. They said to bring him back to the hospital if he gets worse.”

Caden’s voice broke. Austin could hear him starting to cry.

“You ok?”

“No. I mean yes, I’ll be fine. I’m just worried about my parents.”

“Do you want me to come to the hospital?”

“No, it’s ok. I just wanted to let you know about my mom.”

“Should I send a friend? You know, a friend.”

“A vampire?”

“They don’t need to social distance.”

“Right. They’re sort of already dead. Um, I’m fine for now. Um, Uncle Austin, could you, uh, have one of your friends check on my dad for me?”

“No problem.”

“Thanks.”

“Would you ask them to stop by Dairy Queen and get my dad a Blizzard. Something with chocolate. Either the Oreo one or the Fudge Brownie one.”

“I think I can arrange that.”

“Cool. He’d like that.”

“I’ll send someone your dad knows.”

“Thanks. Uncle Austin this is so weird.”

“The vampires?”

“No, the pandemic.” Caden gave a little horse laugh, the way teenage boys do. “It is so weird. Thank for being here for me.”

“Always. Love you kid.”

“Love you too. I’ll keep you posted on mom.”

They finished their call and Austin sat at his desk thinking about his sister, his nephew, and his brother in law. His heart ached at the thought of not being able to do much.

Then he picked up the phone and dialed.

“Hey, it’s Austin. Could you do me a favor?”

The silky smooth vampire voice on the other end answered back, “Anything for you darling. Just ask.”

“Have you ever been to Dairy Queen?”

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Vampire Hunters and Social Distancing

I swear people are stupid. On my way out today I saw so many people at the park I pass on the way to the freeway. A State Park ranger was driving down the street so I knew by the time I got home they’d all have warnings to keep their distance.

On April 1 my brother Aaron dragged me convinced me to go with him to visit the Vampire Hunter Austin Durant. One of Aaron’s Vampire friends had an old house out in the middle of nowhere up in the foothills near the town Murphy’s that he wanted to restore. Unfortunately the place was infested with a group of Shadow Creeping Ghouls, that is Vampires who have no souls, no couth, and are pretty much worthless disgusting predatory vermin.

They aren’t like us.

This group of Shadow Creepers had been slinking out at night and going to Stockton to attack people in their sleep, especially in homeless camps and other areas of more concentrated transient populations. They had to be stopped.

It isn’t unusual for Aaron to drag me along on these adventures, and I use the term adventures lightly. I am small and can fit into tight spaces. I know how to deal with old dried up rogue Vampires who aren’t Shadow Creepers, and have a pretty good track record. More often than not just using my mom voice does the trick. But you know, I hate it. I hate the work. I hate the smells. I hate the way the fumes and dust makes me cough for days on end.

So back on April first we talked to Austin. Then I went home and forgot about it. Yesterday Aaron called me. After I did my best not to use multiple bad words on the phone I agreed to help out.

After a ninety minute drive through the hills of the California Gold Rush Country, which is more or less most of Northern California, I arrived at the old ranch. I have to admit it was beautiful out there. Lupins and California Poppies covered large swatches of fields and hills. New green leaves had sprouted out on the oak trees. Hawks and Turkey Vultures dotted the sky.

The gate at the end of a gravel drive was already open. I blew past a No Trespassing sign and drove about half a mile until I could see a large farmhouse in the distance, next to a large barn and a couple of other outbuildings. At one time it must have been a beautiful home with a large veranda circling the lower half and gables on the top windows.

My brother Aaron stood in front of the house next to Austin. I noticed both were wearing bandanas around their faces.

Over to the side, were everyone had parked, next to a black truck was a big brown eyed guy wearing a face mask. He had on jeans, and a gray unzipped hoodie with a San Francisco Giants tee shirt underneath. Like most guys these days his hair was sort of shaggy and pretty close to almost pony tail length.

I got out of my car.

“Are you Juliette?” He didn’t hold out a hand or step forward. Good man.

“You with Austin?” I asked.

“Yes. My name’s William.”

“You’re a Vampire Hunter?”

“Yes.”

“Where’d you come in from?” I asked.

“Lodi.”

“Are you the back-up?”

“The infestation was worse than Austin thought it would be. Why’d they call you in?”

“Same thing. I told them not to call me.”

“I don’t blame you.”

“I told Austin that if this went sideways I’d turn him into a Vampire.”

William laughed a big hearty laugh right from his belly.

“So, William, what do you do when you’re not hunting down ghouls?”

“Wine. We grow grapes. We’ve been growing for years. My sister and I took over from our grandparents and now we’re starting a winery. We don’t have a name yet and the first batch is in barrels now. We started with a red mostly Zin mix and a Chardonnay.

“Wow. That is so cool.”

“Your brother told me you’re a graphic designer. Maybe we can talk about labels when this is all over.”

“Sure, that would be fun.” Seriously. It would be fun.

“So how long have you been a Vampire?” I knew William would ask. They all ask.

“Forever,” I said. He gave me a sideway look. “One hundred and sixty years. Aaron and I were born like this.”

“No shit. That’s pretty rare.”

“It is. I have three other brothers too. Anyone else coming?”

“No. We’re it. No large groups allowed these days.” He laughed again and adjusted his mask.

At least he didn’t tell me you don’t look like a Vampire. He knew most of us look like everyone else. Just like I knew he wouldn’t be dressed head to toe in black, wearing a huge leather duster, with a knife strapped to his leg and a squirt gun full of holy water. He might have had a carry permit for a gun or a knife, but I didn’t see it.

Aaron came up to me  and elbow bumped, not like we need to do it. He gave me a mask.

“There is some nasty stuff in there. You’ll definitely need this.”

To make a story that might make a great horror flick short, we cleaned the place out. It was nasty and dirty work. It’s a good thing we all brought a change of clothes and bags for the dirty ones. I swear if the brush/forest fire threat wasn’t a real thing I would have suggested we just burn the house down.

Aaron and I don’t know if we could get any kind of Covert-19 virus but we don’t know if we can carry it on us either. Even if you aren’t sick you still have to social distance. You don’t know what might be on you.

  • Keep social distancing
  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Hug your dog
  • Text, call, Zoom, FaceTime, email, and otherwise stay in contact with others. Stay in touch with your kids, your family, your friends, and anyone you know who might be alone or in need.
  • Stay positive
  • Stay creative
  • Watch birds
  • Read a book
  • Stretch
  • Stay safe

We’re all in this together. We really are.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Vampire Hunters, Staying at Home, Online Learning, Keeping in Touch, and Rolling My Eyes as Usual.

My brother Aaron called me. “We need your help,” he said.

“No. Absolutely not. You need to hire a professional. I am not doing this.” I was not going to do this.

“I am hiring a professional. I’m going to see Durant right now. Will you go with me?”

“Sure,” I said.

We were on our way to see Austin Durant, History Professor, restorer of historic buildings, and Vampire Hunter.

Aaron is an attorney and, well, it is a long story, but he deals with rogue Vampires. That includes Shadow Creepers, who are those who no longer have a trace of a soul and are loathsome creatures. The others are Vampires who are over the top predatory,  cause violence against others and kill. I wish this list included bores and total jerks but unfortunately that isn’t a crime, just bad manners.

Let me clarify, Aaron takes care of ridding the world of Rogue Vampires. We could do it ourselves but that would too much bad juju for us. After all, Aaron and I are also Vampires. If you’re new here and don’t already know it go back and read my older posts. I’ve been blogging about it since 2012.

Anyway, we hire Vampire Hunters to help us. Not just any Vampire Hunters. We hire those who are experienced, friends (if you can call it that) of the Vampire community, and aren’t just hacks who’ve been watching too many old Hammer films. Seriously some people grow up seeing Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee movies and think they’re ready to go out and save the world. They know nothing and are more likely to get themselves killed or at least in serious physical and emotional trouble. Jeeze they’re already fucking nuts.

Austin Durant is from a long line of Vampire Hunters, who’ve been taking out Rogue Vampires for centuries. He has a second sense about this sort of stuff and knows how to deal with the world in which Vampires and others who are not like him live. But enough of that.

I told Aaron that I was tired of crawling under floor boards and getting rid of dusty old  dried up Vampires. I’ll work with Austin but I’m tired of hearing, “You’re the smallest Juliette and you’re so good at talking to them.” Ugh.

Our current situation involved a group of nasty disgusting Vampires who’d camped out in an old abandoned ranch house in the foothills, right smack in the middle of the old Gold Country, along highway 49 in the California Gold Rush country. They’d taken advantage of people sheltering in place and self quarantined, especially those who were alone. They’d already gone into Stockton and were working their way up to Sacramento. It was ugly. They were making people sick. Not sick with Covid 19, but we were sure they were carrying it. They were endangering people and of course they never treated their food sources with respect.

That wasn’t so eloquently said, and it isn’t even the point of this story. I’m a mom. Mom stuff  is mostly why I write this blog.

We got to Austin’s house only to discover he’d taken in several students to shelter in place with.

Two were undergraduates. Grace was a third year English Major. Allison was a third year Engineering student. They were sharing Austin’s downstairs bedroom with the twin beds and their own bathroom. Kayden was a graduate student in History. He took the small spare upstairs bedroom.

For one reason or another they had found themselves without housing. Classes had all gone online, but other aspects of student life, like a place to sleep, had become more problematic.

Austin lived in a rambling five bedroom Arts and Crafts home he’d restored a while back. It would be a perfect place for out of place students looking for comfort and a bit of security while they were taking online courses and away from their families and friends.

When we arrived Aaron and Austin immediately went to Austin’s office to talk about the Rogue Vampires and bull shit about whatever it is they talk about. I went to the kitchen for a drink of water.

I overheard the students talking in the family room.

Grace: “Would you change your religion for someone you love?”

Kaden: “Like convert to her religion even if I didn’t really believe in it? No.”

Allison: “Fuck no. Holidays maybe but no, I’m not going to convert to some weird ass religion for some guy.”

Grace: “Would you become a Vampire for someone?”

There was a pause.

I walked into the room. “Vampires?”

“Would you become a vampire to be with someone you love?” Grace asked the question as if she was auditioning for the role of Elizabeth Bennet.

I answered, as if I was auditioning for the part of a warm blooded human. “It depends. Would they become a Vampire for me? What brought on Vampires?”

“Austin was telling us about the raise of religions and cults in 19th and early 20th century America. Then he told us about a group of Vampires who came to California during the Gold Rush to get away from the oppressive culture of the East Coast and Europe.”

“He said he was thinking about writing a book about one of them and her brothers. She’s a Vampire mommy blogger.”

“Really?” I said, then quickly changed the subject. I didn’t change the subject because I wanted to kill Austin Durant right at that moment, or at least rip his throat out, but because I was looking at three young people, the same age as my own children.

Because I’m not some shadow creeping undead ghoul I am also staying at home during the Covid 19 outbreak. I don’t know if I can get this thing. What I do know is that I can carry it. I’m a physical being so I can carry it around until it does land on some unsuspecting soul. Like everyone else I, and those like me, need to be responsible.

I also miss my own children to the point I sometimes feel physically ill. I know they’ve been successful at being adults despite their age. I raised them to be successful adults. I did my job. Bingo. I succeeded beyond expectations. Yet, no matter how much I pat myself on the back, and no matter how proud I am, I worry about them. I love them beyond anything I could ever imagine. That is one thing about parenting that one is never prepared for.

I talked more to the kids about their families, their classes, and their concerns. They made me laugh.

When I could hear the older boys were done with their discussions I invited myself into Austin’s office.

Of course Austin had to ask the one burning question that every Vampire Hunter must be wondering about. “So what are you doing for food these days?”

“Dave’s Bottle Shop is open with a good supply. We also have our regular donors. Don’t worry about it Austin. It isn’t any of your business,” I said.

Then I stepped closer. “Austin, if you ever write about us, or even THINK about writing about us the consequences will be extremely ugly.”

I could almost hear him thinking so I went ahead and answered his internal fear. “Yes, Austin, I would turn you into a Vampire so fast you wouldn’t even know it. Your worst nightmare would be a reality.”

“Juliette,” said Aaron. “Don’t say things like that.”

After rolling my eyes at my brother I just gave Austin a slight smile with the smallest bit of fang.

We’re still figuring out how to deal with the Rogue Vampires. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime if you’re not with your kids keep in touch. Text, FaceTime, FaceBook, Zoom, call, email, or whatever works for you. Don’t just do this for your kids but for everyone you know. Also please check in on the elderly and those who need a little bit of extra help. Keep in touch with those who might be alone and experiencing anxiety or depression.

  • Shelter in Place
  • Wash your hands
  • Keep in touch
  • Write
  • Be creative
  • Get sleep
  • Read
  • Be careful
  • Be nice
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Don’t take any chances. I want you to be here this time next year.

xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman